While there are many players that are excited about being on the field for Auburn’s spring practice, perhaps none has the same drive that sophomore defensive end Carl Lawson does after sitting out last season after having knee surgery. Getting back late last season and able to go through some light work in bowl practices, Lawson said being cleared and full speed has him excited about the season to come.
That’s especially the case after Lawson said he saw a big jump in his play from the fall of 2013 until his injury last spring. Now up to 260 pounds and quicker than he was last year, Lawson said it just feels good to be able to contribute once again.
“Well, it was really hard because last spring I felt myself starting to get a lot better,” Lawson said. “I was starting to raise my level of play each and every day and then having to sit out and having to have somebody to come in and get replaced, it really sucks and then watch everybody struggle through that through the season, that hurt, too. I wasn't out there with my brothers and I couldn't play with them. I had to sit from the sideline and be a cheerleader.”
Something else that has Lawson pumped up about the 2015 season is the addition of Will Muschamp as Auburn’s defensive coordinator. Known for his energy and producing top defenses, Muschamp has already made an impact on Lawson and the Tigers in just a few short days.
“You fight for you job every day,” Lawson said of Muschamp’s defense. “You've got to go hard every day and I love that about him because you can start from the bottom and take somebody else's spot. It's the guy who wants it who is going to start. If that doesn't give everybody on the team an edge, I don't know what else will.”
Will Muschamp coaching up the Tigers on the first day of pads. (Zach Bland Photo)
Lawson is getting an opportunity to show more parts of his game in the Buck position for the Tigers, a hybrid defensive end/linebacker that stands up and moves around. Saying he believes it’s a good fit for his skill set, Lawson added that right now his biggest goal is holding off the hard charging redshirt freshman Raashed Kennion.
“Raashed, even when he got here as a freshman he was really freaky,” Lawson said. “Long, ridiculously long. Can cover ground and can bend the edge. He pushes me every day to get better. I see that from him and it makes me want to go hard because he’s good in his own right. I mean everybody who’s here is good. Just certain guys separate themselves with technique and just being smart about the game. But Raashed always stands out to me because he’s so fluid.”
H-Backs Are Back
There is no question that the fullback/H-Back position is one the Tigers are focused on improving this spring after struggling at that spot last fall. Hoping to get back to the 2013 play when Auburn had Jay Prosch, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said the early returns are good for the two freshmen at the position.
“Chandler Cox and Kamryn Pettway, for the first day in pads, I don’t know how well they executed but from a physicality standpoint, I was really pleased,” Lashlee said. “You’ve got all spring, all summer, all fall camp, I think those two guys are going to give us a chance.”
While the impact of the defense won’t be known for many more months in terms of wins and losses, it’s already showing up on the practice field and that’s not just for the players and coaches on that side of the ball. Lashlee said it’s already evident from what he’s seen that things are different on that side of the ball.
“I think the biggest thing is the way they fly around,” Lashlee said. “Coverages are coverages and plays are plays, but I know we’re going to be very aggressive. It’s just the way they fly around and the little things they do. He’s holding him to a very high standard. I know they are going to be tough.
“I know they’re going to play fast. I know they’re going to play hard. I can just tell there is a little pep in their step. Those guys come to practice hard every day and that’s exciting to us for two reasons. One, I think that gives us a chance to be pretty good on defense. Two, it makes us better in practice.”